By Mike Ozekhome, SAN,
I DON’T agree with this, even if my view is unpopular. Afterall, I am not in any popularity contest with anyone.
How best states can tackle this issue of insecurity: some identified problems
Bad governance and poor leadership: Bad governance and poor leadership still remain Nigeria’s bane and fundamental cause of insecurity from the past till date. It is the duty of every government anywhere to see its primary function as providing basic services such as security, welfare, water, electricity, good road network, quality education, and general infrastructure. Our governments do not.
Overpopulation: Nigeria’s population has grown from 33 million in 1950 to about 208 million today [UNO, mid-June, 2020]. This phenomenal increase in the population has put enormous pressure on land and water resources used by farmers and pastoralists. This pressure has led to the blockage of transhumance routes and loss of grazing land to agricultural expansion, while the increased southward movement of pastoralists has led to increased conflict with local communities, with the latter (e.g. Ondo State) being at the receiving end.
Porous borders: One major immediate factor which has enhanced insecurity in Nigeria is the porous borders of the country, where individual movements are largely untracked. Given the porous borders, as well as the weak security system, weapons easily find their way into Nigeria from other countries. Small arms and light weapons proliferation have enabled militant and criminal groups to have unhindered access to arms. Nigeria is estimated to host over 70 per cent of about 8 million illegal weapons in West Africa. The porosity of Nigerian borders has also led to an unceasing influx of migrants from neighbouring countries, such as Niger Republic, Chad and the Republic of Benin. These migrants who are mostly young men constitute the perpetrators of major crimes in the country.
Rural/urban drift: The migration of jobless youths from rural areas to urban centres is a major cause of insecurity in Nigeria. Nigeria is one of the countries in the world with very high rural/urban drift.
Lack of social responsibility of companies: Companies engage in corporate social responsibility to enable them to offset corporate social irresponsibility. The rise of terror groups in some parts of the country is directly related to the abysmal neglect of social responsibility by companies to the community where they operate. This has been the case of the Niger Delta, leading to the crisis.
Acts of terrorism: Acts of terrorism have become the most fundamental source of insecurity in Nigeria. Its primary base and source have been squarely located in religious and ethnic fanaticism and intolerance. There is fear, destruction and death, especially against unarmed targets, property and infrastructure in states.
Establishment of grazing reserves: The establishment of permanent grazing reserves provides the opportunity for practising a more limited form of pastoralism and constitutes a pathway towards a better template of animal husbandry. Nigeria has a total of 417 grazing reserves out of which only about 113 have been gazetted. It is clear that pastoralism, at least in the short and medium-term, may help to prevent seasonal migration of herders from dry to wet season grazing areas.
Law and policy: There is an emerging conflict between the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of movement of persons and goods, and laws emerging in some states which restrict movement. Some states have, rightfully, enacted laws or are still processing bills to prevent open grazing on their territories. There are some initiatives so far in Benue, Ekiti, Taraba and Edo states. Could such laws be effective in prohibiting nomadic pastoralism, which is practised by millions of Nigerians, especially of the Fulani stock? We shall find out sooner than later.
Community policing should be immediately established within states of Nigeria for effective management of insecurity. Nigeria’s behemoth police force (sections 214 and 215 of the 1999 Constitution) should be dismantled in favour of states, LGAs and community policing.
There is an urgent need to create an enabling economic environment that allows for social, security, economic and physical infrastructure. This will allow for business and industrial growth.
Creation of job opportunities for the teeming youth is a sine qua non to prevent rising crime. Adequate punishment, e.g. barring for life, politicians who use thugs for politics, should be encouraged. This will help our electoral system.
There must be good governance, transparency and accountability.
Security systems must be strengthened: Our weak security system can be attributed to a number of factors which include corruption, inadequate funding of the Police (and other security agencies), lack of modern equipment, poor welfare of security personnel, and inadequate personnel.
There is, therefore, the need to improve our security architecture through the training of security officers, sufficient training in modern security methodologies, provision of state-of-the-art equipment and appropriate remuneration, good service conditions, and a convenient pension scheme. Modern methods of intelligence gathering and intelligence sharing, training, logistics, motivation, and deploying advanced technology in managing security challenges should be introduced immediately.
Poverty reduction is a must: A realistic social security programme must be vigorously pursued and implemented, to ensure that the teeming populace meets their basic needs.
There should be mutual trust, respect and accommodation by all ethnic and religious groups in Nigeria. No section should claim superiority over others whom they, unfortunately, regard as vassals.